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What Is a Silent Butler?

Nathan Schwartz

The term "silent butler" refers to a type of covered receptacle used for cleaning small amounts of material in the home, much like a covered dustpan. They were often beautifully designed, with attention to detail.


The term silent butler was coined in the early to mid 1940s, according to Random House Dictionary, and is used to describe a small receptacle with a lid attached via a hinge.


The silent butler has been traditionally used to clean up a variety of debris such as cigarette ashes, dust and crumbs. The handles on silent butlers add to their convenience for quick cleaning tasks.


Silent butlers are were often made with ornate trim. They were available in a variety of finishes, such as chrome, brass or bronze.

Expensive materials

Unlike the simple plastic dustpans in use today, silent butlers were available in more expensive materials. Tiffany & Co. produced a high-end silver silent butler in 1961.


Some silent butlers are made with simple wooden handles, whereas others are crafted in unique designs such as braided handles.